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J Pharmacokinet Biopharm. 1987 Oct;15(5):529-44.

The influence of variable gastric emptying and intestinal transit rates on the plasma level curve of cimetidine; an explanation for the double peak phenomenon.

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College of Pharmacy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-1065.


A physiological flow model is presented to account for plasma level double peaks based on cyclical gastric emptying and intestinal motility in the fasted state. Central to the model is the assumption that gastric emptying and intestinal transit rates will vary directly with the strength of the contractile activity characteristic of the fasted state motility cycle. Simulated curves clearly indicate that variable gastric emptying rates can result in variable absorption rates from the gastrointestinal tract and double peaks in the plasma level curves of cimetidine. Vital to the occurrence of double peaks are (i) dosing time relative to phasic activity, (ii) variability in flow out of the stomach, and (iii) a small emptying rate constant Qs/Vs, for a period of time within the first hour after administration. Variability in intestinal flow rates alone does not cause a double peak in the plasma level curve. Results of the simulations, as well as experimental results, can be categorized according to the shapes of the plasma level curves into four types: type A, Cpmax (1) less than Cpmax (2); type B, single peak; type C, Cpmax (1) greater than Cpmax (2); type D, Cpmax(1) = Cpmax(2). Assuming that the experimental results were obtained from fasted subjects, with the time of dose administration being a random variable, the frequency of the experimental curves having shape A, B, C, or D correlates extremely well with theoretical predictions. It is concluded that variable gastric emptying rates due to the motility cycle can account for plasma level double peaks. Furthermore, variable gastric emptying rates combined with the short plasma elimination half-life and poor gastric absorption of cimetidine can be the cause of the frequently observed plasma level double peaks.

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